Keith Urban has been recognized with a special ACM Award for his efforts in spreading country music internationally. He was announced as the recipient of the organization's Jim Reeves International Award on Tuesday (April 6). The honor is named for the late country music star whose popularity in the 1950s and 1960s led to No. 1 hits such as "He'll Have to Go," "Distant Drums" and "Billy Bayou."
In addition, Mel Tillis and the late Marty Robbins were recognized with the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award for their early contributions to country music.
Don Schlitz and the late Cindy Walker were also named as the recipients of the Poet's Award, an honor presented to songwriters. Schlitz's credits include the Judds' "Rockin' With the Rhythm of the Rain," Reba McEntire's "One Promise Too Late," Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," Randy Travis' "On the Other Hand" and "Forever and Ever, Amen" and Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing at All." Walker's song catalog include Eddy Arnold's "You Don't Know Me," Bing Crosby's "Lone Star Trail" and Bob Wills' "Cherokee Maiden," along with hits by Gene Autry, Johnny Bond, Jim Reeves, Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb.
Other winners of special ACM Awards include Crazy Heart, which earned the Tex Ritter award given to films that feature country music. Veteran talent agent Rod Essig was named the recipient of the Mae Boren Axton Award which recognizes an individual's dedication and service to the country music industry.
The winners in musician-related categories include Brent Mason (guitarist), Michael Rojas (piano/keyboard), Michael Rhodes (bass), Shannon Forrest (percussion/drummer), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Randy Scruggs (specialty instrument), Justin Niebank (audio engineer) and Dann Huff (producer). Industry awards include Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth, Texas (nightclub), Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas (casino), Todd Boltin of Variety Attractions Inc. (talent buyer) and the Sommet Center/Bridgestone Arena in Nashville (venue).
The remaining ACM Awards will be presented on April 18 in Las Vegas. The ceremony will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on CBS.